Recently, there’s been a surge in suicide rates. All thanks to work pressure and the pandemic.
CDC reports that suicide rates spiked by 30% between 1999 and 2016 in the United States. Though men are three times more likely to commit suicide than womenfolk, suicide rates in women are on the increase.
Another report released by CDC states that some professions have a greater chance of being suicidal.
The Construction and Extraction profession has the highest suicide rates, considering the nature of job and money trouble as the primary cause of suicide.
According to a 2015 report, health care practitioners, including nursing professionals, have an 11 to 12.5 suicide rate per 100,000.
Based on a 2017 study on suicide in the female population, 23% of nurses have an increased chance of committing suicide than the general womenfolk.
The study attributed the suicide rate to accessibility to harmful doses of medication. In addition, research shows that lower-paid health employees have high suicide rates compared to higher-paid staff.
Thus, nurses are more likely to commit suicide than individuals working in the non-healthcare sector. With the pandemic, suicide rates in nurses have tripled.
Suicide among healthcare workers has become rampant, making it a significant concern in the healthcare setting.
Unlike nurses, suicide rates among doctors are declining since the introduction of support systems and restructuring of work-life balance.
How are nursing students handling stress?
Nursing is an intense field of study, requiring biological sciences and social skills in tackling complex human needs. The rigorous coursework and clinical pave the way for mental distress.
Leading causes of clinical stress include fear of the unknown, the need to attain a high GPA, staff incivility, among others. With the factors mentioned above, financial and family pressures, it’s evident that nursing students aren’t handling stress exceptionally well.
What contributes to high nurse suicide rates?
Over the years, there’s been a lot of pressure on nurses to give their best to human service. Nurses face a difficult decision between meeting the needs of their patients and the healthcare system.
This issue has accelerated burnout among nurses, predisposing them to illness and traumatic situations. Most of them have to deal with patients’ death, inpatient setting, etc.
When there’s no support system like loved ones or colleagues to vent to and a healthy environment to de-stress, all these can overwhelm the nurse, causing a breakdown.
Since the Electronic Health Record (EHR), patient care has declined because nurses do more documentation than tending to patients’ needs.
This development makes them feel guilty, considering that they’re not offering the best patient care. Reports have shown a higher rate of suicides in female nurses than male nurses.
There aren’t many studies about the increased rate of suicide in nurses. It is not surprising as it’s believed that nurse practitioners are immune to the effects of depression since they have a vast knowledge of healthcare.
There are claims that suicide rates in nurses may be relatively higher as there’s no systemized process of collating data on nurses that commit suicide. This unclarity is because suicidal deaths recorded in the database are without details of the profession.
Other factors predisposing nurses to suicide
Compared to the general population, nurses have an increased chance of being suicidal. Below are risk factors for suicide in nurses.
- Chronic pain
- Fear of harming a patient
- Workplace violence and abuse
- Fear for safety or safety of others
- Financial constraints
- Inadequate self-care
- Job loss
- Isolation from family and friends
- Work/life balance
- Substance use disorder
- Long shift schedules
Let’s consider some of these factors and how they contribute to suicidal behavior in nurses.
Depression: Depression is the leading cause of suicide in young adults. Even nurses aren’t left out. Due to stigma, many nurses avoid seeking help when they’re depressed.
This negligence is due to the fear of being called weak. High-stress situations, lack of support, and inadequate sleep predispose nurses to depression.
Chronic pain: It’s pretty burdensome to live with chronic pain. Hopelessness and frustration will set in when you’re in chronic pain, which can exacerbate suicidal thoughts.
Due to the stress subjected to when running shifts and working in the intensive care unit, many nurses experience low back pain. Over time, this becomes severe if it’s not managed.
Fear of harming a patient: Sometimes, nurses get overwhelmed with work and anxiety about committing medical errors. Even healthcare experts experience this fear.
They become accustomed to this, and it becomes a lifestyle.
Workplace violence and abuse: Many nurses and other health practitioners report physical violence and assault cases. Sometimes, these experts get assaulted by patients or patients’ families.
Patients with psychological conditions are known to curse and hit nurses. Nurses in evening shifts and working in the emergency units are more likely to be victims of violence.
Bullying: This may seem absurd, but nurses face bullying at work. There have been reports of bullying and harassment in the previous years.
This pervasive problem didn’t just start; it’s been from nursing school and continues throughout the nurse’s career. Besides accelerating nurse shortage, bullying results in a poor work environment and suicide.
How many students committed suicide in accelerated nursing programs?
Suicide among college or university students is relatively high compared to other population groups. This problem isn’t just a health issue; suicidal rates have increased among the young population.
Nursing students are more prone to suicidal thoughts than other college students.
While there’s no specific number of nursing students who have committed suicide in the accelerated nursing program, the percentage may be high. Typically, nursing school is difficult.
Combining family, financial, and life pressures with school is burdensome. ABSN is quite rigorous as a blended program, requiring time and commitment.
This stress can take a toll on nursing students, making them prone to depression, anguish, and suicidal thoughts.
Now you have a broad understanding of nursing suicide, factors contributing to suicide, and the ratio of female to male nurses being suicidal.
If you’re a nursing student stressed lately by schoolwork and life issues, ensure you reach out to your student counselor for help.